Aspire for More with Erin

The Parallels of Being a Teacher and an Executive Director with Laura Munoz of Bella Groves

February 29, 2024 Erin Thompson
Aspire for More with Erin
The Parallels of Being a Teacher and an Executive Director with Laura Munoz of Bella Groves
Show Notes Transcript

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Erin:

Hi, welcome back today. I have a dear friend of mine. Miss Laura Munoz, the executive director at Bella Groves. We all know and love Bella Groves, but here's the woman behind Bella Groves, Laura Munoz. Welcome. Thank you.

Laura:

I'm very excited to

Erin:

be here. I am ecstatic to have you here. of course we met at Think Tank and thank God we did. it's been a pleasure to have you in my circle and to learn from you. to actually learn a lot of things from you and as a new executive director, it's been great.

Laura:

thank you. I appreciate that. It is definitely a, very difficult and rewarding job that I never even knew was out there. it's not something that you think exists. I never, I guess you never really think about who runs. Senior living companies who runs like, who does that? You don't I don't know somebody, but I never ever thought in my life ever that it would be me that would be the place where I would feel most at home.

Erin:

Yes, so let's talk about your journey into senior living. Everybody has a journey into senior living. And like you said, you didn't even know anything about senior living, but you were a teacher. Yes, you are a teacher.

Laura:

That was a very interesting time in my life. Yes. for 9 years, I started a little later than most. I didn't start teaching until I was 28 and for 9 years, I taught 8 years of high school and then 1 really terrible year in middle school. That was the year that did me in. I was done after that. but I was committed, I loved the kids when I taught high school. I taught 10th grade for 5 years and 12th grade for 3 years and 12th grade was amazing because this is like kids who are just they're about to start their real lives. some of them are having their life start a little sooner than they expected, but getting to teach those. Like soft skills that you need to be successful in some capacity was really cool for me. It was something that I never had anticipated and so I loved it. I loved the light bulb moments that the kids would have, like, when you could see all of a sudden, there's just oh. I get it. I thought English, let me tell you something about teaching English. He likes that you may have, out of a class of 32 kids, you may have 4 who really love it. And then you may have. Seven who actually read the book, everybody else is like flipping through it, looking it up on their phones, trying to figure out how can I not get busted? Because I absolutely am going to call on the people I know didn't do the work, And but the light bulb moments when you could make something connect to their real life and have them see why it's relevant. And that was the part that really I don't know, did it for me,

Erin:

Yeah, who doesn't like those moments where it connects or the dots connect. That's nice. how did the radical shift? I can understand that, teaching a bunch of middle schoolers may make you want to run as far away as fast as possible. But what, how, why did the shift from teaching to becoming an executive director in a senior living community? What? Made that happen

Laura:

so last school year. So 2223, I was actually working on my master's degree in educational technology leadership and was going to be a principal. That was my plan. I knew that I'd been a leader in education for a long time. I'd been a professional learning circle is what we call them PLC. So professional learning circle leader. I had been a leader in my district. I had done a lot of different things. And so I knew I was good at that. I knew that I was good at communicating well with others. And so I was tired of being in the classroom and I thought, I'm I want to do something more. I want to help teachers be better teachers. I want to guide them in a way that makes them feel confident and successful and happy with what they're doing in the classroom. Because when you are happy with what you're doing in the classroom, the kids are happy with what they're doing in the classroom and it makes them want to come and actually put the effort in and you can see the biggest difference in like your own children. You can see it. You can probably remember from when you were a kid, the teachers that you loved. Yeah. You probably don't remember what they taught you exactly, but you remember that you loved them. You remember that you felt good in the room, that it was like the class you looked forward to all day, and I wanted to help more teachers be like that. So I wanted to coach them through things and what better way to do that to be a principal. So I worked on my master's degree in the second half of the year. And so spring of 2023, I had to do my internship. And that was when the, how do they say it? When they pulled the mask off and, Like the terrorist where they pull the hood off of your head and you're like, holy mess, this is not at all what I expected it to be. And, that was when I learned that you don't get to do any of those things. you still have to follow everybody else's policies. You have to do what the people above you say that you have to do. And it doesn't have anything to do with the law. there's just, it's all red tape and it's all this stuff about. doing what is best for the people involved, but those people are not the children and those are not the teachers. So I think for a lot of people and a lot of teachers and a lot of leaders in education, it is different for them. But I just felt like this is not the place for me. And I had a really negative experience with. One of the assistant principals at the campus I was teaching at, and, hadn't had an interaction with a student where the student was. Profane and rude and call me all these names, a little 8th grade boy. And when I reached out to his mother to talk to her about it, she, she's what'd you do to him and I was shocked because I had not ever had that response from a parent before. And as a parent, I would never. Tell a teacher, what did you do to make him call you all of these names? And so I just didn't, I couldn't connect with it. And I may have said something like that. I probably shouldn't have to the parent. It wasn't like exactly the nicest, most professional comment that I might've made, but pretty much what I told her was, that it was not my fault. That he responded in this way, that is a product of upbringing and not a response. To what I had said, this is not because this is because of you. And I didn't tell her that, but I did say that this is not a product. this is a product of upbringing. And she didn't like that very much and complained. And the assistant principal was like, you don't have to talk to her anymore. Cause she was really like, she was emailing me over and over again and saying really terrible things. And, so he's you don't have to talk to her anymore. Cool. I felt like he had my back. And the next day I get to work and he says, I'm going to need you to apologize to her. And I was like, why? And he was like, they give a lot of money to the boosters and they're big in the community. And it just would be really nice for everyone involved if you would just apologize. And I said, absolutely not. And I came home and I told my husband, it's time to look for a new career and he was my fiance at the time. We were not even married yet. And he was like, so here we are, about to get married in 2 months. And I'm like, oh, by the way, I don't want to do this very. I don't want to do this career that is very predictable where it's dependable income and all of these things. I don't want to do that anymore. I'm going to just do something totally different. And he was very support. He was like, you know what you got to do. It makes you happy. And just tell me what I need to do. And I started applying for every kind of job. I didn't need, I'm like, what do you do with your life? What do you do when all you've known your whole adult life is teaching? And so I transitioning teacher is a hashtag that's popular on LinkedIn. And so I looked through a bunch of different. Networking, groups and different things that you can belong to and try to find some direction and what I got was HR and I was like, that sounds terrible. And so I applied for a couple of jobs. I went on a couple of interviews. Didn't really spark my curiosity or my didn't pull at my heartstrings. I was like, this is not for me. So then on a whim, I applied for a social services director position at a skilled nursing facility here in New Braunfels and it said social work certification or social work license required. And I was like, I don't have that, but I do have a minor. I minored in social work when I was in college. And so I went. On the interview. It was a long way. It was about an hour and a half. And, and I realized very quickly just in, the lady was very nice. I don't remember her name, but she was wonderful and I'm really excited about her job and all of these things. And I realized that this is absolutely my house. this is the place I want to live. This is absolutely the thing that I want to do. I don't want to do it here and I don't want to do this job, but I know that this is where I'm supposed to be. So I, every day I would get up at five o'clock in the morning, I'd pull up my phone, looking on LinkedIn, looking on Indeed, looking on every posting that I could find and applying for every executive position that I could find in senior living. And I had a little bit of reservations because I'm like, who am I to believe? That me coming straight out of education has any place or any right to apply for a position in of leadership in an industry that I don't know anything about, but I just kept doing it. Anyway, I was like, if I'm going to I'm too old to start at the bottom. And my surely there's something that I've learned and all these years teaching that will benefit me in some capacity. And I know I'm a leader. I know that I am at my core. I know that's part of who I am. And I interviewed at 2 other places and then 1 morning, it was a Tuesday. I got up and had my coffee and I had my phone and here I am on indeed. And, the position for executive director at Bella groves popped up and I read through the description and it was different. Like different from anything that I had ever seen before on any job posting and thought, maybe that's somebody that I want to work for. And so I applied for the position. And that day I got a phone call during star testing. any teacher who knows anything, you don't have your phone during star testing, but it pops up on my watch. I was supposed to have it on do not disturb, but I did not. I pops up on my watch and I'm like, oh, my gosh. when I had the 1st opportunity that I had, I went and I listened to the voicemail and it was James and he was all excited about, Asking me just for a phone call, he's I saw your resume and there was something about it that intrigued me. And I was like, oh, man, I got to call this guy back. And I did, and we had a very interesting short conversation. And then I went for an interview the very next day, and I was there for 3 hours. Three hours.

Erin:

She was on a three hour tour. Three

Laura:

hour tour. I just know my husband had to, at this point, be looking like, I know he was looking at my phone, looking at his phone and is she still there? is her little dot still moving a little bit? Are you okay? But yeah, so three hour interview. And I left from there and I called my husband and I said, if he doesn't hire me, then I have really bad instincts. That's just it. I just knew I knew when I walked out of that door that was going to be my place. I knew that I was going to come there and that was going to be

Erin:

where I would grow fascinating story. Fascinating story, I can imagine. A 3 hour interview I, in my interviews with sales directors, I really spend a lot of time with mine too, because, I really want you to know this is going to be difficult, but this is going to be fun and it's going to be worth it. So we're going to, I need to know if you can hang with me, can you hang with me? That's I don't know if I don't know if I've had a 3 hour interview, but I know I have had. Long interviews before.

Laura:

I will say, there are a lot of things that I can say about James. Lee. He is an amazing leader mentor all of these things. He is also a talker,

Erin:

a

Laura:

wonderful, it didn't even feel like three hours to be honest, like I think about halfway through, I realized, I think I kept getting text messages and I finally saw one from my husband that was like, are you okay? And I felt comfortable enough at that point with James that I was like, can I just text my husband real quick and let him know I'm still alive. And he's Oh, you know what? I should probably text my wife too. And, it was just, it was really a funny situation, but it didn't feel long at all. It felt meeting a new friend and then feeling like, Oh my gosh, these are all this. This is it. Like these are all the things that I didn't know. I didn't know they, they were, I didn't know they were out there. I didn't know that this was a real thing and, we're taught all our lives that if something feels too good to be true, it probably is. And so I feel like during that time period, I was like. Waiting for him to, remove his nice man mask and become a terrible person, or I don't know, I just was waiting for something to be like, ooh, yep, that's the thing that I can't do. that's the hard out. Yeah. it still hasn't happened. So

Erin:

that's great. Was the transition, from teacher to leader in senior living, was it hard? The, all of the stuff that we have to do as leaders, executive directors and senior living, did it feel hard? Transition like, did you were you able to parallel a lot of what you learned in education? Because I will say, I have always thought my sister is a teacher and when I hear her talk about things similar to what you said, I'm I realized the parallels of teachers and schools take care of. Some people's most prized. Possessions right there kids and then we and senior living, take care of their other prized possessions, which are their parents or, people that they're taking care of. And so the pressures that teachers and leaders inside education feel, I would assume are very similar to the pressures that we feel inside senior living and have those conversations like you did with the 8th grade boys mom, I'm curious to know, do you feel that's correct? are there parallels that make it an easy transition for teachers who want that change? And how was that for you?

Laura:

there are absolutely. Parallels in senior living and education, and it's not something that I expected at all. I thought this was going to be like a brand new industry. I'm going to have to learn everything over again, and it's going to be tough, but I can do it. I had this, I have a great support system at home. I just knew that it was going to be okay. And then I get into it and it wasn't that different. And that is really shocking for me as a former teacher. I still consider myself an educator of sorts. as a former school teacher, I was shocked to realize that there are so many of the skills cause it's not the teaching. It's not the act of the teaching thing that you do that is beneficial later in life or in some other career. But I think what a lot of people don't know about teachers and about education is the amount of, it's not the work in the classroom. That's the hardest part. It can be frustrating because kids sometimes are just like all over the place, but the hardest work is everything that you have to do outside of the school day. Planning, you have 1 50 minute conference period per day. If you're lucky, if everybody has to have 1, but if you're lucky, you actually get to use it because if you're not lucky, then so many teachers are out that day that you have to give up your conference period to watch somebody's class. So during your conference period, like that treasured time, so for 50 minutes a day, you and your teaching partner, or you and your group of teachers are working together to try and develop a plan on how to achieve success. So how do you do that? It's strategic. It's absolutely not tactical. So you have to start at the end. Here's what I need to achieve. This is my result that I want. And then I have to take steps backwards to figure out how are we, where we are today, going to get there by this time period. And then you have to add in all of your what is the word variables? So you have to add in all of your variables. You've got your super low kids. You've got your super high kids. You've got your middle of the road kids. You've got those that are visual learners. You have auditory learners. You have tactical learners that need to be able to touch things. And this is from I've never taught elementary school. They all need raises because I can't do a little kid. But in high school, even where, the majority of my experience was in, or almost all of my experience was in high school, even in high school, you have all of those types of learners. You have special education students, you have five Oh four students, you have students with IEPs, you have, all of these different things that you have to account for when you're making those plans. And that's a lot. You have to find a way to repeat that. 6 or 7 times in a day, I think at most in my teaching career in a single year, I had 160 students in a year. and that would be like, help. So many, maybe 1 class period was shorter or smaller than others and shorter. 1 class period was smaller than others because that would be like the athletic period. But then every other you're talking 20 to 30 kids. And that's a lot of having to understand people and being able to determine what somebody's strengths are without them knowing it and explaining it to them. you're good at this and the kids are like, no, I'm not. And you have to teach them about themselves. That's being a leader and meeting a person about themselves and then showing them how to see it for themselves. And then grow into an even better version of that a more informed, a more educated version of that. It's not about what it's not about what you teach them in the classroom. It's not about the content. Yes, they have to do the content. They have to learn it. They have to be able to perform on a test. But what you are doing is educating children how to think not what to think. And that's what we do as leaders. Yes. as a leader you are teaching people how to think strategically. You're not teaching them, this is what you do in senior living. there is a little bit of that, right? You have to know the regulations. You have to know all of the things. But when you're leading people, it is about communication skills. It is relationship management and there's patience. There's a lot of patients involved too. But that, that's all teaching and it all connects directly over. It's just being able to. and I think it's important to be open enough, like open minded enough and perceptive enough and willing to see, not willing, I don't like that word, able to see the connection between where you've been and where you want to be and the road that you have to take to get there.

Erin:

So good. That's so good. yes, I, I think for a lot of people in the industry, I think the industry as a whole makes us goal oriented people and we totally underestimate or don't value growth oriented Ness. and I think what I have found over the last. Year and a half close to 2 years now is there were parts of me that were growth oriented and then there were parts of me that were goal oriented. And it's I didn't know the difference. I thought that the end result would be the same. But it really isn't it really isn't and I think that's where we can do better. And that's like what you just said, like, when you're able to see. The road that you need to take to get there and then you change that mindset to where it's like growth oriented, because if you're always. Intrinsically motivated to grow, you're going to get every goal. Not even goals you didn't even know that you wanted, just I'm on this mission to grow me and I'm on the mission to grow people. Yes. leadership is a visual sport. It truly is. If they see you doing exactly what you just said. Then they're going to want to do the same thing. Yeah. and you literally brought that from the classroom to senior living and what a perfect place to be to like, really get it like. Man, that's

Laura:

so good. Yeah, it makes me like, I think about all of these people that all of these teachers that I've worked with over the years and the different, strengths that they had. And I even actually recently talked to a former colleague of mine that she was my teaching partner at 1 of the schools I worked at. And, and she's, Thinking about leaving education and she's I just don't know. I just don't know what to do with myself. And I said, I can relate. I'd love to visit with you and talk to you about it if you're interested. And she's how do you love you? How do you like your job? I was like, man, let me tell you my job. And I have never in all my life been able to say that I love my job. I love the things that I get to do. The people that I get to interact with the work that we get to do everything about what I do every day. Is joy and who, who am I to be able to have that and then keep it to myself, so I was like, you know what, I'm going to hook you up with somebody that I think that you should talk to and acted her with. A friend of mine who works in hospice and, this person has a servant's heart and I believe that she would do so well in that. And I think that most teachers who it is like a calling, right? Yes, I don't necessarily believe that it's teaching children. That is a calling. It's the act of sharing knowledge in some capacity and helping someone else learn something that they didn't know before. And that's a totally different thing than, oh, she's just a teacher. I can't tell you how many times as a teacher that people would tell me that oh, you're just a teacher just, sir. I am not just a teacher, like, when you think about all the work that goes into 1 lesson. For that 1 class period, and then knowing that lesson has to change for the next class period, because little Billy in the front is not going to tolerate it. You're going to he's, oh, my gosh, what is the word? See, I've been out of it too long. Now. I can't think of it. he gets overstimulated with, yeah, overstimulated. Yes. Free stimulation. He's got sensory stimulation, so I can't show the video. So I know for this class, I have to modify my lesson, and that's every single day. Yeah. There are no, you can just show a movie that was in the nineties. They don't let us do that anymore. yeah, just. Thinking through all of those things and connecting with people and knowing that there is something else out there and there is something out there that can feel like fulfill that joy in your heart for helping people see. Things that they didn't know before doesn't have to be in a classroom. It could be in a memory care community. It could be assisted living facility could be in an I. L. place. it could be anywhere anything in senior living and, that was very eye opening for me.

Erin:

Yeah, if we become to goal oriented, we will, we can lose joy quickly. And if we can stay in the growth oriented ness. Then joy can really outlast all the bad weather opportunities that come around. And I really do think that the school has a lot of goal oriented and almost unrealistic expectations. and I feel confident enough to say that, the majority of senior living, there's a lot of people that think the same way to, with the majority of senior living, you are in a unicorn community. you have been blessed beyond measure because you deserve it. to not have experienced that other side of senior living, but you have experienced it just in that education arena, that you speak of, you made a comment 1 time how you loved the education. Department, I guess you loved this, the education world, but it just didn't seem to love you back and. That hit me, in a spot where, I, I understand that, I can feel your sister, I feel the same way about senior living in some ways and some aspects of that. but then I feel like I had that unicorn experience, inside the community that you get as a full. Experience because you work in an environment that values the whole and not every senior living community values the whole. and I did feel that way. when you said that, and I'm like, I see, and you're the perfect fit. For senior living and teachers are the perfect fit. They are leaders. And creative problem solvers, like, when I sit inside of an IEP meeting, I'm just amazed at the creative problem solving that goes on. And I'm like, I'm with my people, I'm with my people.

Laura:

That's right. And it's everything has happened. Have you ever seen that meme that came out? I don't know how long ago it came out, but I've seen it 100 times, where there's like a truck and it's filled with chickens and the truck is on fire and it's going down a mountain and it says, this is teaching.

Erin:

Yes.

Laura:

And then the teacher sitting in the driver's seat of the truck with her coffee and she's shaking and everything is frazzled and she's it's fine. Everything's fine. It absolutely is. that's just it is a crazy career, but the, I think the creative problem solving where that comes into play. It's you have to always be thinking that you have, you're putting on a show. every single day, every single class period, you are putting on a show because if they're not interested, they're not going to get it. And you have to find some way to make it connect to them. And so your mind has to be in a hundred different places and you have to be able to switch tabs super fast. And that is a skill that takes some time to hone in on and be good at it. And once you've gotten it down, It's really easy to use that skill, no matter where you are. So I can be in a meeting with a new manager and have another manager come into my office and have there's a problem and I can switch gears. And this is what I need to do this. Here's, here's my solution for this problem. And then slip right back into the conversation I had before without skipping a beat, but it is because I've been doing it for years. I've been. in the middle of teaching the hero's journey and, telling Billy stop playing with her hair, Billy, don't touch her. Keep your hands to yourself. And every other word is something weird. And yeah, it's just, it's a skill that you have to be able to grow. And once you have it, having a leader who can help coach you through how to use that and can see all your strengths and see the things that if you are not careful can become weaknesses, then. That's how you're able to be great at what you do. Yeah,

Erin:

it is a skill and it's a skill to be proud of. It's a skill to be proud of that. You can literally walk down the hall solving problems and then go, Hey, it's nice to meet you. How are you knowing that all that, just 30 seconds later, you were solving the world's problems and now you're. because you literally in a community setting, you walk down. you could have 17 different scenarios at play before you even get to where you're going. And then you have to remove all of that and focus on what you're doing here. That's right. It's an insane job.

Laura:

But my favorite is the I know you're busy, but. Yes, that is my favorite. I say that all the time. I, they pop into my office and before they even say anything, I'm like, yes, I'm busy, but because I know they're going to know you're busy, but yeah, or

Erin:

the, are you busy? Are you busy? No, I'm not I'm just sitting here

Laura:

hanging out thinking about the world problems and how I'm going to solve it.

Erin:

Yes. You made another comment. This is why I fell in love with you. we met virtually until we met, physically, but you made this other comment that, hit me too in my growth journey that was like, You just said it so matter of factly, and you said, I, I'm getting used to not being the most experienced in the room. And that was something that I was intimidated by as I was stepping out and doing new things totally living outside of my comfort zone. And you were in the process of totally living outside of your comfort zone. And you said that with such confidence and grace. And I was working to get to that point and I was like, yeah, and then as I've, grown in my journey, I realized you want to be the least experienced in the room. Because a number 1, you're hanging around people who are going to make you better and you're in that room, and then be like, you bring fresh perspective. just in your case, you bring fresh perspective because you come from a completely different industry and there are some people that will not even listen to you. But then there are some people that you can actually plant seeds to create change. And that's

Laura:

fascinating. Yeah, that is, I never thought that being new in an industry, like being the newbie, that terrifies me at my core because I, as, as confident as I am in myself today, I haven't always been that way. And I've always my whole life was, I never felt like I was good enough and it didn't even have to be anything big. There was not like one real big person that, had this influence over me. It wasn't, it was a me thing, it was me comparing myself to other people and just not feeling like I wasn't good enough in some capacity and left untreated that can really do a number on. for a long time. I didn't have this confidence or understanding that it's okay to be new. It's okay to be different. It's okay to have, different experiences because that doesn't make them less valuable. And the things that I had to really, had to really harness. Some inner strength and confidence and things that are not intrinsic for me. They're not like innate, it doesn't just, you're inside. I will, I do have to shout out my husband. He is the grower of all things, confidence in this woman. he. He saw me when nobody else did and or in my feelings, right? The way I felt, it's all the me that I didn't know was there. And when I told him that I wanted to, change and when I. After my three hour interview with James, I called him and I talked to him the whole way home and was telling him about all of these things. And he was like, this is it. This is what we're meant to do. You were meant to lead people and absolutely you should be the boss. be the person over everybody. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I don't know if I can handle that. And he was like, yes, you can. And so that belief in me over time has grown to this point where I was like, you know what? Yes, I can do this. It also is like a little, my experience is so different. you mentioned that I work in the unicorn and senior living, I've been in rooms where people have, as a matter of fact, so when I got my ale manager certification, the only person that was new in the room, even though there may be new executive directors or new people, they had worked in the industry before and, there was a lot of. I've got to close the back door and I was like, to myself sitting there going, I'm pretty sure I text James, at some point, or I called him. I think we were talking about an issue at the community during a break. And I was like, by the way, somebody said. You need to how do you close the bag or you got to make sure you close the back door and he's oh, that's a sales term, to make sure you figure out why people are moving out. And I was like, oh, and he said, what else are they saying? And I'm like, they're all talking about, census and, budgeting and all these other stuff that I, I had been, I think. I went in September, so I had already been at Bella grows for. 4 months. Three and a half months or something and I knew about some of the things, right? Because how can you not. But I definitely didn't have the feeling that was attached to their knowledge and that was like, that's how I felt about education. And so here I am sitting in this room full of people who are, and then at the table during lunch, they're all talking about, my executive director, blah, blah, blah, blah, and yeah, corporate this, and that. And then feeling when everybody's complaining, and they all look at you. it's your turn, you have something to contribute here. And I'm just sitting there like, nope.

Erin:

I'm shooting out rainbows and unicorns, baby.

Laura:

Skittles everywhere in my community. I don't know what you guys are talking about, but this is not my life. So, it was really exciting for me to see that, of all the places that I could land. That this was where I landed and in this environment where I could grow and learn so much about myself and my abilities that, not everybody has that opportunity.

Erin:

So they don't and the difference, I think in your growth now, like, when you think back about that experience, because that is the experience that I have and you mostly hear those conversations in the circles. Inside the industry, why are you handing out skittles and why are we, struggling

Laura:

sandwiches. Why

Erin:

are we eating bologna sandwiches?

Laura:

Oh, man, they're so I will tell you, there is a lot of reasons why my experience is different than most people's experience and. I could, or we have great families at Bella groves. We have wonderful residents. We have amazing caregivers, but I think that you have those everywhere. what we have is an excellent leader who has caught the entire leadership team, how to create a psychologically safe work environment. And that is. Life changing is something that you never, ever even could know, like you would never even know that was a real thing. I had never even heard of it before. I just knew that I had heard, I'd read a quote and I don't know who said it, but I know I read this quote 1 time. That was, have the courage to be the boss. You've always wanted. And I thought, man, that's really cool. Like, how do you, that's what I was thinking. when I'm a principal, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to be the principal that I wish that I had now. never had I worked for the person that I wish that I could be like until now, never have I worked for someone who is let me show you how to do this. Let me give you all the keys that you need to open all the doors so that you can know all the things. And I'll walk you through it. And when you question yourself, I'll help you through it and I'll support you. And learning that one thing I will say about, when you're growing your emotional intelligence, it is a big helping of humble pie because very quickly we'll realize that, Oh, I see. It's me.

Erin:

Yes. Hi. Hey, almost

Laura:

all the time. It's me. And you don't know these things about yourself until you really are able to look at, these are all the situations I've been in and everybody has treated me this way. And this is how I feel through it. And then at the end, you're like, the only thing that's the same in all of these situations is me. So once you accept that growing your emotional intelligence is going to be a lot of. It's me So once you're self aware now, how do we manage it? You can't manage that by yourself. You absolutely have to have a support system that understands what you're doing and what you're trying to do. And without that, you can't grow. And there's a difference between going through something and growing through something. And I grow every single day, I have conversations every single day that grow my leadership skills that grow my emotional intelligence and help me to create. A psychologically safe environment for the leadership team and for and help them learn all of these things so that they can create that same environment for the care staff so that the care staff can become more regulated so that they can help regulate others.

Erin:

yeah, it's a fascinating cycle. you hear the vicious cycle, right? But the cycle of leadership growth is the leader has to become self aware, which means you have to make yourself more valuable. So you can, in return, add more value to others. But for a long time in senior living, we think I did that. I have to give, but then that turns into a lot of resentment and a lot of I'm doing all this. And what am I getting in return? When I started the journey to become more self aware, I understood root causes and I could make changes. To where now I'm making myself more valuable. I need my time. I need this. So I don't I'm not that other version of me. That's angry and resentful. I understood. Oh, that was the 1st, that was the 1st phase. But when you become self aware, you realize that it's not about you. It's about them, but in order to self regulate. It has to become about you. So how do I become the best version of me? So in return, it can be about them. Yes. Not that it's all about me. So therefore you have to do this. It's, I have to become aware of everything that I treasure, treasure, everything that I value, what my goals are, what I want to do, how I. Keep the scales somewhat in play to where I can give the best for me and it seems confusing to do that, but it's true because when we think it's about us, our reactions become pretty bad. I've had some bad reactions to certain scenarios that I'm like, oh, that was my problem. It wasn't even there. it had nothing to do with that. It was literally I was at my wit's end and I should have realized that way before I was at the end. and that's excellent, but I didn't have the soil of growth. you do, I didn't have that psychological safety. I felt like I had to be perfect, which is not psychological safety. Yes, and that is important and I think if we can take anything away. The what I see in you and. what we hear a lot is that you. You have the confidence you have a growth mind, because that's what's expected of you. you want to live in joy. That's what's expected of you. How do you create joy? How do you get joy? you grow, you cultivate it. It's intentional and. I know that I can see it. You're calm, you're calm, she's a calm executive director folks. she seems really at peace in her like, when I meet her in person and when she's on the screen, and that's not what you see a lot inside the senior living industry. And that's where we need to go folks. Yes, and I'm sure you're I'm sure it's not perfect. I'm sure there's some skittles on some days and then there's non colored on others. You know what I mean?

Laura:

That is there are days when I'm really struggling and, I'm still a person, and I'm not by any means an expert in any emotional intelligence or any of those things. I'm still, all of us, everybody's on their journey, right? the more educated you become in emotional intelligence, the more you realize, oh, I'm doing this and I need to stop or I need yes, you're constantly modifying. The things that you need to modify for you so that you can do for others, and you're, when you're practicing servant leadership, or when you have a servant's heart and you want to do for, other people, you have to, and, I used to tell my friends that, you have to charge your own batteries if you are going to be polite for other people. And. self care is important, especially in, when I was a teacher, you had to take care of yourself for a minute. there just had to be. And I never realized that during that self care to me, self care is go get a massage, go get your nails, go get your toenails done and go get your haircut, do something that makes you feel good on the outside so that you can tough through it. Like you can. And now it's yes, I still want to do those things, but that's not how I grow. And that's not how I handle the day to day. So in this ever changing world. And this ever evolving world in the senior living industry, where you have to create a space for people to feel safe and at home and at peace, whether it's memory care or assisted living or skilled nursing. It doesn't matter. You're creating a space where people want to bring their loved ones. And trust you to take care of them. So you can't just be a good salesperson. You also have to be a good person. And you have to create an environment where people want to bring their family members. You have to create an environment where people want to work. they are mad when they get sick and they have to miss their rotation. I have a caregiver right now who is mad that she has to miss her whole rotation because she's sick. And, what is that? who, what caregiver do you know in this industry that is other than the financial reasons, like she misses the residents. She missed the team. She misses that because we have created this environment where. It's okay if you make a mistake, but let me show you how. Here, having conflict with another caregiver, let's talk through it. What's this really about? Why are you, let's go through the steps. We're going to use all the images. We're going to do fierce conversations. We're going to do radical. We're going to do, vulnerability. We're going to get through all of the things that we can get through to find the right tool to help you. Be more successful

Erin:

is what

Laura:

you're more successful with your own emotional intelligence as a caregiver, then you're a better teammate. If you're a better teammate than you and your team are creating a better environment and with dementia cares, you have to, they can be, they can feel the energy in the room. Yes, I can and so when your team dynamics are a little wonky. Then what you have is. Unregulated people and unregulated people, and it turns into a really unpleasant day. creating that psychologically safe environment in the workplace doesn't only serve me, the leader. It doesn't only serve James, the owner. It doesn't serve the caregivers. It serves the entire community. Because everybody benefits from it. And then who else? So then me, the leader, I'm learning all of these things. And then I come home and I'm a better wife. I come home and I'm a better mom because I'm consistent, like constantly thinking about, I don't want to practice this. I practice my skills on a regular basis. So if my son comes home and he's acting crazy and doing something silly, I have to think, okay, instead of flying off the handle and be like, what's wrong with you? And, going all crazy on him instead. It's okay. Something happened at school, because I know this is not his normal behavior. So now I'm thinking what has influenced this behavior? what is happening? That's created this. And so psychological safety is one of those things that if you don't have it, you don't miss it because you've never had it. But once you have it. You can't imagine what it must be like to work somewhere where it doesn't exist anymore. No, I can't imagine what it would be like to work in any other senior living community that didn't have this and what now I know why the turnover rate is 100%. I wouldn't want to say somewhere where they didn't make me feel welcome where I didn't feel comfortable, right? And feel confident and where I wasn't supported through growth in some capacity. And that's what we do, we are, I am so blessed to be able to work somewhere where I am constantly nurtured and supported and taught how to do that for other people.

Erin:

You're the perfect fit and you were ready for it, which is, you were ready to receive it. And that's the thing to be ready to receive that kind of nurturing is, just as vital as finding it, which is great. I think, psychological safety as you define it, I'll sum it up as leading with your heart 1st. it's leading with your heart. It's not enough to have a high IQ anymore. We're entering a phase specifically in the service industry where we have to lead with our heart and then the rest will follow. And you're a perfect example of that. And I've seen how you can teach people. You taught me tech things. You're a fabulous teacher, So it is, it just makes perfect sense. And you show us. Through this episode, and through your actions and the success at Bella groves that the education world is a perfect parallel and a bridge into senior living. thank you for taking the leap, and making your team a priority, which is important because when your team's a priority, you're going to win, you're going to win. thank you for your time. It's been fabulous and, I hope to continue to learn from you as our relationship continues to grow. thank you

Laura:

for having me. I feel so grateful to have you in my life and as my friend and to I learn from you all the time to I am taken in from every single body everywhere. I can get it from. I'm like, teach me your ways. Do here at aspire for more, and it is amazing to have that courage and to do it like you are doing it.

Erin:

doing my best. thank you. And as to all my listeners aspire for more for you.